Grieving the loss of a baby is a process, and I am unsure if we ever complete that process. But I do think we can get to a place of acceptance. (artwork: Tess Emily Rodriguez)
CN: Infant and Pregnancy Loss
She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.
Can you recommend any specific books or online resources you used that helped you deal with your losses?
I've had several very early miscarriages that didn't much affect me, but I gave birth to my second daughter at 22 weeks, and she was too little to make it in this world alone.
This happened over two years ago, and sometimes I feel like it was a lifetime ago. Sometimes I smile at the thought of her, her memory being a blessing. And still, there are times when it feels like it happened yesterday.
I know there's no magical cure, but I'd like something that could...I don't know...steer my thoughts in a different direction when they go down one that isn’t the happiest. I'm not sure how to word that last part…
Also — is there anything else you’re willing to share about your experience having and losing your son prematurely?
I totally understand if you don't, as I'm a stranger and you didn't go into it too deeply (on the post I read, at least)...however, I don't know anyone personally or know OF anybody who's been through this except for, well, you.
Hope to hear back…
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First, I am so very sorry for your losses. I know the pain of both miscarriage and losing a baby who was born too soon.
This coming August 2nd, it will be three years since I lost that baby boy. Most of the time, it does feel like a long time ago. But at other times, the grief is fresh. Because I loved that baby boy. Because grief is unpredictable. Because our hearts have memories deep inside that muscle.
While writing this, I had to take a moment to cry. I had to sit in those feelings. I still have moments when my throat cannot contain the sorrow, when my heart hurts, when I have to allow myself to let it out.
And that’s okay.
Grieving is a process, and I am unsure if we ever complete that process.
But I do think we can get to a place of acceptance with our grief and that brings some peace and relief. My biggest life lessons have been in acceptance. Acceptance of what I can’t control. Grief certainly falls into that category.
You asked if I could share anything else about the experience. (I wrote about it, and the ongoing healing, here and here.)
What I can tell you is that it was probably the hardest thing I have gone through… and I have been through some stuff. I can tell you that when I think of the visuals of that day, I still feel shocked. I can tell you that my biggest regret is that I didn’t take any photos. When I held him, alone in a room, before going to surgery to remove the rest of the placenta, I wish I had asked the nurse to take a photo for me. I can tell you that, however illogical it may sound, I miss him.
The most significant difference between the initial grief and the grief that I continue to process is my acceptance of it, my willingness to feel it and let it be.
About a week after losing the baby, at the suggestion of my father-in-law, I went to see a Reiki healer. I found her by googling “Reiki healer NYC.” I had very little knowledge about what Reiki was nor did I pin any high hopes on it working. But for me, it was integral to my healing. It paved the way for my soul to heal.
Getting that type of spiritual help led me to invest more in my spiritual life. I read books, I learned different forms of meditation, used sensory tools like crystals and essential oils. I opened myself up to any and all sorts of spirituality and healing because I was desperate to make it through the grief. And by doing that, I found practices that soothed my heart and mind. I found comfort in small rituals.
Specifically, a couple of books that helped me were Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart and Michael Newton’s Journey of Souls. I am not sure if they will resonate with you, but I found a lot of solace in those pages.
There is a wonderful website called Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support. They have a ton of resources available, including online support chats that they moderate.
Speaking about it and writing about it also helped me a lot. Wading through the aftermath of infant and pregnancy loss is so isolating. When we share our stories, we find that so many other people have had similar experiences.
You don’t have to be alone in that grief.
Keep talking about it. Check out the online support on Share. Find some spiritual practices that bring you comfort. And, as always, talk therapy can be immensely helpful. If you don’t have a therapist and need some guidance in that area, email me, and I can point you in the right direction.
Lastly, I want to reiterate that there is no timeline with grief. It ebbs and flows in our bodies. The one thing I am sure of is that it becomes easier and easier to deal with when we don’t run from it, when we just let it be, when we permit ourselves to feel it.
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